Skip to comments.Collecting 860 rosaries result of a lifelong passion (Catholic Caucus)
Posted on 09/03/2011 1:24:50 PM PDT by NYer
A selection of Gloria Hoffner's collection includes a Bavarian rosary, circa 1900, bottom left.
In a collection of rosaries that numbers 860, the prayer beads that started it all look like supporting players amid the headliners. There are the shimmering (with garnet beads from Bavaria), the miniature (just three inches long), and the relics (filled with soil from Italy's catacombs).
The plain ebony strand that travelled with her grandfather from Ireland and the silver beads that spent decades in a mother's handbag have history on their side.
"I bought it for my mother when I was 19," said Gloria Hoffner, 82, about the silver rosary. With the black one belonging to her grandfather, it forms the root of a collection that is still growing.
Her rosaries are part of a seemingly endless permutation of beads, medals, and crucifixes that are instruments of prayer and devotion for Catholics and other Christians. The crosses open like lockets, contain holy water from the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, and are carved with holes that, peeped through, show images from the life of Mary.
Hoffner's first memory of buying a rosary is from a missionary visiting her school. Hoffner's upbringing was strict and steeped in the Roman Catholic Church.
"People got rosaries for birthdays and anniversaries. People carried them," Hoffner said. "I think of my grandfather and my father and those days when someone died and the priest came and everyone knelt down to pray the rosary."
Hoffner scours flea markets, antiques stores, estate sales, and the Internet. When she travels, her trip inevitably involves shopping for rosaries. Then the research starts. Hoffner wants to know everything she can about the materials, the manufacturing, and the history. Her notes, clippings, and computer printouts stuffed three big folders until her daughter Helen, a professor of education at Holy Family University in Philadelphia, had an idea to write a book.
"I always wanted to get her a coffee-table book on rosaries, but I couldn't find one," Helen Hoffner said. "There were all kinds of books on praying the rosary, but none on the history."
So in January 2009, mother and daughter went to work. Helen Hoffner, the author of several education textbooks, was on sabbatical to write yet another. She devoted some of that time to compiling The Rosary Collector's Guide, a 181-page book featuring the Hoffner collection and a history of the rosary.
Gloria Hoffner keeps her collection in flat compartmentalized boxes stored in a safe at a friend's house.
"I think she feels a real sense of accomplishment at how much she's collected and the expertise she has built," said Hoffner's daughter Nancy Catania. "It's her own little niche. It's not something a lot of people spend time putting together."
Gloria Hoffner sometimes gives rosary demonstrations. She travels to clubs and senior citizen centres to show off her collection. "Sometimes people ask if we're going to pray the rosary," she said. But she makes it clear that she's not there to conduct a service. "I'm not an expert on religion. I just like collecting."
But the rosary means a lot to Gloria Hoffner. She prays it in times of trouble, and when things go right, using the silver strand with blue enamel beads that belonged to her mother.
Learn more about Gloria Hoffner's rosary beads at philly.com/gloriahoffner
In his book about Mary: Hail, Holy Queen, Dr. Scott Hahn tells how, as a young man, Jesus drew him away from delinquency. Because of his newfound faith, when his Grandma Hahn died, they gave Scott a box of her religious articles. In it was a rosary. At that time he knew Jesus, but considered any devotion to Mary would detract from what is owed to God alone. To him the rosary was like a chain, so he took it in his hand and broke it into pieces.
Scott eventually became a Protestant minister. During his seminary years and as a young pastor, he studied the Bible and the teachings of early Christians. Little by little he began to realize the singular role of Mary not only as mother of Jesus, but her unique holiness. He discovered a long tradition regarding her as intercessor, spotless virgin, and queen, bodily taken into heaven.
Dr. Hahn concludes his book with an appendix on praying the rosary:
Once I looked down with disgust upon a string of rosary beads. I saw it as a noose that choked off true devotion in countless Roman Catholics. When I held Grandma Hahns rosary, I couldnt break that loop quickly or forcefully enough. Now, while I look down at my own bead, I see the same circle, but it is different. It suggests a queens crown, a mothers encircling arms.
What a beautiful collection!
but I bent that to the point where it wouldn't turn any more. So I got 250 of these and carry a small selection and give them to people (not just Catholics) that I think might appreciate or or use them (including one of my Reformed friends who initially held it like it was a decaying marsupial, but who then pinned it up over his desk in a prominent position)
And I only have four rosaries! LOL!
I want to read this book. Thanks for the little bit you copied!
More pictures here:
but they are flash-based so I can’t link them directly. The multicolored one in the second picture is exquisite.
My husband's mother was raised Catholic, but converted to the Methodists when she married my father in law (a preacher's kid). Now my husband has converted back, so we're even. :-D
When her sister passed away recently, they sold the house in New Jersey and of course had to clear 80 years worth of stuff out. My mother in law got a big paper bag and gathered all the religious medals, rosaries, prayer books, holy cards, etc. that had accumulated in all that time and just handed them over . . . . amazing stuff. Many of the rosaries are broken, but I've been able to mend some and am working on others.
Some real curiosities -- chaplets of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, many third-class relics, medals of saints you never even heard of . . . I've been slowly working through them. Gave the St. Gerard Majella medals to a friend's daughter who was having a difficult pregnancy. Pleased to report she went to full term and had a beautiful daughter after a short and uneventful labor!
I can understand the argument about supposed loss of focus, but what we see here is not an arguing man but a hater and a vandal reduced to his basest instinct.
This is definetly a womans topic:
As a man who prays the rosary daily for many years, I can tell you that little to none of this rosary collectors rosaries would last 6 months in my pocket with the keys. The best or most durable rosaries I found were the corded wooden beads rosary, but they only last on about 9-12 months at best and run from $5-8 dollars or more. Recently discovered knotted twine rosaries, can be made off a $12 roll of nylon twine with only .60 cents of twine, beautiful,sturdy and easily replaced. Easy to make these.
My "truck rosary" is a twine and wooden bead rosary that my daughter brought me back from Nicaragua - locally made.
When I lose a bead, I just saw through the side of a small wooden bead with a jeweler's saw, slide it onto the twine, and seal the gap with a little rubber cement.
It looks a little bit odd with a few off-size beads here and there, but it's fairly tough.
the cord wooden beaded ones can be very attractive, as well as the knotted twine ones. How attractive are your plastic beads/parachute cord ones? A pic if its convenient would be nice. Right now I’m getting very happy with the knotted twine ones, pretty/attractive, low cost and only need one thing...twine!
Is this what you're talking about with the twine? -
Our parish has a project group that makes these. All you need is the thinner (3mm) parachute cord, or twine. The beads are made of barrel knots.
Directions here: knotted rosary.
Thanks, yes the bottom picture is what I make except the cross is entirely knotted cord also.
I like beads better than barrel knots, just because.
What an awesome collection! I’m sure she must have some really lovely ones.
I’ve been real horrible keeping track of my rosaries. One is lost in my car somewhere and others scattered about my house. I feel kind of bad about that, especially given all the help the Blessed Mother has given me recently.
Once, after Confession, I lit a candle in front of a statue of her, asking her for her intercession, and for 3 days after that, I had ZERO temptation for the sins I’ve been struggling with. It was the greatest relief I’ve had from my habitual sins since returning to the Church 6 years ago. I really should devote more time to her.
That post reminds me:
What IS the official teaching (if any) regarding wearing the Rosary? Is it not to be done, or is it permissible?
My former pastor told a parishioner it was ok, but this same parishioner was told by another priest it’s not ok.
There seems to be some ambiguity there. You seem like the best person to ask for a definitive word.
Many religious orders wear a rosary on the belt or cincture as part of their habit.
There is no official teaching, per se, about wearing the Rosary around the neck, but there are customs. In Irish-Anglo circles it seems to be frowned upon, as treating a sacramental as if it were nothing more than jewelry. In Latino cultures, on the other hand, rosaries are worn around the neck fairly often.
One problem is that it may be misconstrued if worn around the neck. So many gangsters, pop stars, etc. have worn it that way merely as a fashion accessory. In that case, it may cause scandal.
Like so many other things, it's a personal choice, being mindful that (1) it isn't a good luck charm; (2) if you're wearing it, your conduct should be above reproach; (3) it should be worn with appropriate piety and prayed often.
Might make more sense, though, to carry the Rosary in your pocket and wear a Brown Scapular instead. Rosaries are for praying -- Scapulars are for wearing.
Wearing rosaries is currently becoming a fashion statement for people who have probably never entered a Catholic Church. I assume the black Americans are picking it up from the Hispanic gangsters, who at least have a cultural connection with Catholicism if they don’t practice.
I’m thinking it must be a religious practice in Central America, because our Carismaticos wear them, mostly of wood, and they are mainly Salvadoran. The gangsters probably wear them as a badge of Salvadoran identity.
None of our clergy has said it is inappropriate for a devout person to wear a rosary around the neck. That would be going against history, since it has been done in various cultures throughout the world at different times.
AAM — most of the folks who blessed the Church, coming from the Episcopal community are “experts” — they put cradle Catholics like me to shame, what do you say, Mark?
"Sacred objects, set aside for divine worship by dedication or blessing, are to be treated with reverence. They are not to be made over to secular or inappropriate use, even though they may belong to private persons" (CIC 1171).
So, wearing a rosary if you really mean it as a personal symbol of prayer is ok, but as jewellery, no (no one is going to stop you and ask, unless you're a Goth! But even Goth's can be believers, right?)
I agree with AAM though -- a rosary is useful when it is carried in your hands, not around your neck.
BTW, good to see you around these parts AAM...been a while since I've seen your handle around here.
Well I can’t say that my motives were entirely unrelated to wanting to marry a Catholic. I did and do, but decided that it must be my decision and my faith apart from her. :)
But thanks for your words. :) Take care Mark.
As with anything, done for the right reasons is fine, done for the wrong reasons is not. Personally, I don’t wear it but then I’m one of the Irish/German/English Catholics. Not much hispanic there. :p
I have thought about it but I think a good divide is this. Would you wear it around the neck but under the shirt? If the answer is yes, then it’s for the right reasons. If not, then you’ve got your answer right there. I know a very good friend of mine who does so, but no one would ever know, unless they thought to ask.
good point — if it is not “for show”, it is something close to your heart